Oh What a Day

November 4th, 2022

We came to Kaimana wanting to be a tourist. We don’t usually cruise as one. At times, circumstances demand we switch roles. There were Whale Sharks near Kaimana, Indonesia. They are a fascinating animal. Not a typical shark, not a typical whale, slow, lazy swimmers and a big, big mouth.

Kaimana is a little out of the way, and a bit out of the cyclone area.

For us, more for me; the sad part was that this time of year we are in the doldrums. A period of no wind. Whale Sharks don’t care. I did. We motored the entire way. Motored from Tual. The motoring was one thing, fueling up was another.

We carry around a 1,000 liters of diesel and I don’t relish the idea of empty tanks. The last time we topped up was in Cairns, QLD. In Cairns we didn’t get to the top. Here, in a place that rarely services any yachts (but a lot of fishing boats) we needed fuel. There are two challenges in that regard. First Indonesia has different qualities of Diesel. Solar which is a low-low quality country subsidized fuel and the higher quality Dexlite. Of course the Dexlite costs more. Technically Solar is not available for tourist. And Solar is much dirtier anyway. To make life more interesting, there is no, and I mean zero, diesel available on the dock for yachts. Besides, the dock will not accommodate our boat. With the tide and dock height we would damage something.

The method in Kaimana is to jerry jug it. To top up we need about 300 litres. We settled for 120 liters. Now, if you are not Superman, or an Avenger, carrying 120 litres of diesel doesn’t mesh well into our lifestyle. We needed help. In a country where there are few similarities between our mother tongue and theirs, we bring out the best of charades. That and an app translator.

Infinity and Sand Groper found a Taxi that took them to a station near by. When we tried to take a taxi to the station we were being driven clear across town, across the harbor, to the farthest point from out boat. We aborted near the Pentamax fuel terminal. W/ suggested; better described as insisted, we go talk to them. Again with Charades and an Indonesian English translate app we arranged to met two employees in the afternoon. We would bring our Jerry jugs. They would take us to fill up with Dexlite and 10 liters of gasoline. At he terminal we waited and played charades with the guard till the employees arrived. We were lucky. Rosi Li and Ronald drove us to an area out by the Airport for Fuel. Rosi Li was concerned if we had enough money. The total came to 2.2 million Indonesian dollars. We had enough. And in air-conditioned comfort they actually hauled us back to the wharf where we had left our dinghy. We added the fuel to out empty tank, treated it and returned 4 containers we had borrowed from another cruiser. That completed we were ready for our Whale Shark adventure.

The following day another set of cruisers had asked about fuel at the hardware store. The store right outside the port. The owner called his son who picked them up. The station was about 1 km up the hill they filled some more jerry jugs. I was impressed and amazed at how close it really was. Our last day in Kiamana W/ and I walked up the hill and added 10 more liters to our gasoline inventory for our dinghy. After which, now that I knew exactly where it was, I added it to the Zulu app for other cruisers.

For Cruisers Zulu is a bonus

One of most important skills of a cruiser is to seek advice from other cruisers. Local knowledge is KING! Cruising guides are good. Yet by the time they are published and bought some info is out of date. The Zulu app fills that gap. In whatever area you cruise, others who have gone before have uploaded places to go, how to get there, what services are available, and cool anchor spots. Don’t leave home without Zulu! As always, I have no financial investment or any other relationship to the company. W/ and I do find the app helpful.

 

 

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Australia to Indo!

October 20th, 2022

We left on a rising tide. If our calculations worked out we would be flushed out of Thursday Island with at times 4 kts of current behind us. Indeed, that is what happened!

Leaving Australia was bitter sweet. We were here almost 3 years. We made many friends, witnessed a few once in a century events, and upgraded the boat for the next chapters of our cruise.

Our friends will be missed and we hope to cross paths with them somewhere down the line. The century events such as the Australian fires will not be missed. Nor the rain bombs that plagued the Queensland and New South Wales states. And of course, Covid which shut down so much world travel.

In our ride out of the Australian summit the winds were exactly what we hoped for, the seas not so much. Mother Nature cooperated with a breeze rarely breaking 20 kts. But, Neptune found another way to torture us. There is not much room in the Torres Straits for ocean swell to squeak by. I wondered how nothing seemed to matter in how the seas developed here. We had swell from the NE and then from the Gulf of Carpentaria south of us. Any whoever has studied “waves” understands that the height troughs are additive. Thus if you put a 2’ wave on top of a 2’ sea; where they cross will be 4’. That is the crest. And the opposite is true. If you put a -2’ trough with a second 2’ trough you get a 4’ bottom. The worst is that the waves and seas don’t combine in a nice, comfortable, easy motion; but randomly. The boat is thrown about in odd ways. While tolerable, the motion does make sleeping during off watch times less than idilic.

The good news was that as we were moving away from the Torres Strait and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The seas and swell were easing. The wind moderating to a steady 10-15 kts. We knew then the seas were soon to settle. And the boat motion would follow.

We were making good time. Our first evening we had a lovely lightening show N of us over Papua New Guinea (PNG) and another S over Australia. The good news about lightening offshore is that you can see it 100’s of miles away. The bad news is that you can see it. On a boat in the middle of the ocean, lightening is not fun to have around. One of the fears I had of leaving for Indonesia late in the season was that we would have no wind (Doldrums) and be traveling through the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ is where lightening calls home. That zone after all is a junction between two weather systems. Our luck held out. All we had from the two lightening shows was a lovely tropical rain shower in the early morning. The wind settled down and became a breeze, the boat’s washed, and we continued on our way.

While every sailor loves wind at their back we are no different. Our course and the wind direction were exactly the opposite. Winds at our back. For sailors that is good news. The minor issue is that while at our back the winds changed during the day from 135º at night to 90º during the day. Each day we needed to gybe the boat a few times to keep traveling in the right direction. Much like walking with a blister, tolerable, just not “fun”.

As the wind and seas settled I decided to fish. Luke and Fumi on s/v Araminta in Lizard Island gave me a hint. To catch Mackerel you must use this particular kind of lure. I didn’t have one. Fumi was ordering some sending them to Thursday Island. Since we would meet up again there I asked her to add two for us. We picked them up in Thursday Island and finally I decided to test their theory. I added it to our new rod and reel we picked up in Gladstone and set about 100’ of line out the back. Set the clicker on and waited. This is how I like to fish. Let the boat do the work, read a book and when we hear the reel ‘zing’ haul it in.

Well for most of the day I never heard a zing. Sometime in the afternoon I checked to see if I had caught some trash on the lure and needed to remove it. W/ “FISH ON”. I noticed we had a fish dragging across the surface of the water. The reel never went through the zing. Had I set the drag

Nice King Mackeral

First King Mackeral caught while leaving Australia

to tight?! It could be the fish tried to swim with us instead of fighting. Anyway, I reeled in a tired fish. Getting it aboard was not easy. I usually just swing it up into the cockpit as taught by my cruising brother Dirk. This one was too big to swing. I couldn’t easily use the pole and the wire leader wanted to cut into my hand. W/ grabbed a pair of leather gloves for me. I reached down and grabbed it by the jaw dragging it through the lifeline and into the cockpit. In the cockpit it began thrashing around as W/ threw an older towel over its head and stood on it. No longer did it thrash around. We made a noose to hang it by the tail, dropped its nose in a bucket and cut the gills to let it bleed out. An hour later I was cleaning a good size Mackerel. 40 plus inches from head to tail. Another hour and we had twenty steaks cut up and in the refrigerator. We added them to the freezer the following day. Whew.

As the days went by and we continued to have wind we settled into a comfortable routine. Light breakfast, Lasagna for lunch and snacks the rest o the day. We divided up the night for watches, slept and read a lot. I started and finished 4 books and W/ read about the same.

Back in Thursday Island we had a bit of luck. We stopped at the Grand Hotel restaurant and had lunch. I had not enjoyed Lasagna for a long time time, ordered it and loved it. A few days later we were there again and asked them if they would sell us a pan of Lasagna. We had done something like this before when we left NZ. They didn’t have any in pans but wold sell us the portions they had already frozen. W/ bought six. This saved heaps of time with meal preparation on our passage. W/ removed one a day from the freezer to the refrigerator, the following day it was ready to heat and eat. It did hit the spot.

We lucked out with the rain and not having a shower every am. But fate threw another curve ball. Fishing fleets, nets and long line bouys. The good news was that most of them had an Automated Identification System (AIS). The bad news was when they showed up on the charting system. It reminded me of science fiction films and attacking aliens in space.The bouys don’t move. We needed to. Further, while they were near a mile apart some had nets. Better to go around them than through them.

When we first began studying our route for this trip I had read that the fishing fleets would be out to around 50 nm. I plotted our course to stay out 60 nm or more. Now we were 80 nm off the coast and coming across the fleets. Yuck!

We maneuvered around all but one. Remember; every once in a while we would see a bouy that didn’t have an AIS marker. There was one bouy that listed its size as 1,300 feet. We suspected a net but had no idea which direction it ran. We sailed by it at about 3 kts. As the bow of our boat came close I saw a string of floats, a net. We coasted right over it, the floats popping up astern of us. With any of the modern racer cruisers they would have caught the net in their rudder. Some people try to put cutters on various parts of their boat below waterline. Fishermen don’t like their nets cut up so some of the newer nets use a wire rope at the surface. A catamaran too would have grabbed the net with any of its 4 below water appendages, two rudders and two sail drives. Snagging a net with ocean all around in the middle of the night would not have been fun! Nope, not at all.

As the week played out, and as predicted the winds eased. The seas followed a day later. That was expected and fine by us. Larger seas than wind creates a lot of work on the boat. Some on the crew too. The swell moves the rigging back and forth as they roll by. As the rig moves the sail loses its drive, not enough wind to hold it out. It goes flat only to be filled back up again when the boat rolls back. Filling up isn’t a nice easy job. Then, as the sail fills again there is a god-awful bang and oft times shaking our rig. Some can noise and shaking can be ameliorated by using a heavy duty pole to keep the sail out. The pole reduces the strain on the rig and sail. For most of the trip we used a pole on our head sail. And as we were sailing 99% of the time straight down wind we never pulled the main sail up.

The last two sailing days were the sweetest. The wind had lightened up such that our heavy duty sail was not doing it’s job. The sail weighed too much and would hang limp. We hauled out our drifter which as the name implies is used when we are close to floating around in the open sea. This sail cloth is super light fabric. It attaches at the top and bottom and a line we refer to as a sheet runs back to the cockpit. She looks alive as the wind breaths into it and moves back and forth slow dancing and pulling us along. We cruised along at 3-4 kts having a wonderful, relaxing, resting day.

The last evening produced another light show, this time to the E of us. All night long we watched lightening dance across the sky. Not until the early morning did we hear the beat of thunder. Thunder tells us that the storm is inside the 10 nm range. It is not a perfect estimate, say 10 nm plus or minus a mile. When we start to hear thunder we count to see how far away it is. Three seconds per km and five seconds per mile. The morning was soon to arrive and we decided rather than attempting to sail into the mess we would lie ahull. We pulled all the sails down, tied the helm over and hung out watching the system pass N of us. We just floated…. aronnd. When the storm had passed our bow and moved far enough away we cranked up the iron genny (our engine) and motored between the two islands, around the top and down into Tual harbor.

And we were damn glad it was daylight. Continuing N we passed 50 or so Fish Attracting Devices (FADs) with a small unlit hut ensconced atop. Running into one of these in the dark would not have made anyone happy. Ironically, while this entire trip to this point we had the wind astern, after the storm system passed the wind was now on our nose. Right out of the N. We rounded the top of Tual and who knew, the wind on our nose continued. Even as we entered the harbour and headed S we had a head wind. Go Figure.

About 2:30 pm local time we anchored with our Quarantine flag up. By 3 pm we had our first official aboard. The day wasn’t over yet!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Overview

October 8th, 2022

While things have been happening here I’m sorry I’ve not been posting about them. We made it to the top of Australia: Thursday Island.

Overall, it was not a good trip. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has some wonderful spots; and many not so wonderful. Imagine being married to Ms. Universe or the magazine “GQ’s” sexiest man of the year. Now imagine that they are physically and mentally abusive. That is the GBR.

There are awesome beautiful islands, inlets and reefs to enjoy. And yet trying to locate a nice peaceful place to anchor is not an easy task. First you have a swell that seems to find a way into every anchorage. Monohulls will lay side on to the swell. This means rolling sideways back and forth the entire time. And the roll is not comfortable like a hammock. Oh no! Ballast in the boat effects the extremes creating a jerky motion bringing the boat back upright only to roll the other way. One can modify and almost eliminate the roll with Flopper Stoppers. We have them. But only spending one night at any anchorage we never felt we needed to get them out, store them away, get them out again and repeat as we moved N through the GBR. Ok so we have roll.

While Australia is generally quite safe in the gun arena, the GBR is full of bullets. Much of the GBR are mountain islands close to 1,000 feet tall. Wind builds up on one side. When the wind reaches a certain point it crashes down into the anchorage. The wind sings in the rigging and making life noisy and uncomfortable. The vast majority of places we anchored at had an unlimited supply of Bullets.

Being as large as Australia is, all the water blown up towards the continent must go somewhere. There are several large bays where water enters and with the influence of the moon and Sun, exits again after 6 hours. Water depth can change as much as 10 m (30 ft) 4 times per day. That alone is quite significant. Add in the ocean floor bottom contour and we end up with not only currents changing 4 times a day but “Overfalls”. With 10 meters of water flowing out a bay and there is a large mound or crevice in the ocean floor the water must go somewhere. That somewhere is at the surface. On top one ends up with breaking waves and confused seas for no noticeable reason. The boat responds to this like a bucking bronco, up, back, forward, down, twist around, repeat in a random order!

For Elysium those painful adventures smothered much of our enthusiasm for the GBR. That and our forced delivery of Elysium. If one has a couple of years to sail up and down the GBR the relationship would have been much more positive. We had to make the trek in a couple of months. Clearing this coast, we’ve sailed more and moved more often than we have in any other year of our cruise. This adventure took about 8 weeks. No wonder we are tired and have not had the best time of our lives. We like to sit and smell the flowers, stare at the sunset, and meet the people that live where we are visiting. Our adventure on this coast has been close to nothing like we’ve had in the 13 previous years cruising.

Now don’t get me wrong. We found some really wonderful places on our travels up the coast. And part of the problem for us is our boat is not setup for coastal cruising. When we move we pack Elysium up like we are heading offshore. The dinghy is deflated and stored upside down on the aft deck. This procedure requires about 2 hours of work to secure and store; and another 2 hours to return to service. The rewards for an hour trip ashore is not worth it.

I am sure there are some gems we missed. In over 1500 nm of coast, probably quite a few. Some of the places we loved; Bundaberg, Pancake Creek, Gladstone, Townsville, Magnetic Island, Cairns (both good and bad there), Lizard Island, and Horn, for us; that is it.

Go Slow
Stay Long
Sail Far

Sailing… Cruising Queensland, Australia

July 15th, 2022

Tis a pain. We thought sailing the Queensland coast would be; well, a piece of cake. The nice warm trades pushing up along the beautiful coast. Turns out it is not, a piece of cake. Two plus years ago we arrived in Bundaburg; Bundy they call it here, and proceeded down towards Brisbane. Referred to as Brissi. 🙂 Aussies like to add an, “I”, “ie”, or “y” to much of their descriptive nomenclature.

The trip south was for the most part a pleasant 100 mile sail. There; in Scarborough, we sat out Covid completing a heaps of boat projects. We played tennis, made new great friends and renewed our friendship with a couple of Aussies that once had lived in Florida.

All was well, but two things forced us to move. Two more than anything else. Bureaucracy and weather. Bureaucracy was forcing us to move. And so we’ve been moving. Returning to Bundy again wasn’t a rough trip. From Bundy N, the trip has not been pleasant. We planned on visiting Lady Musgrave. The wx didn’t cooperate. We headed N. North to the warmth we say. The following week became cold and really, really, windy.

Mother Nature decided this year she was going to freeze out those living in Queensland, (QLD). That included us. When we left Scarborough we rid ourselves of the comforts of marina life, an electric heater and an AC unit. While it is cold on land, on the water it is even colder. Colder because the water is colder. We dressed in layers, slept under several blankets and hid from the wind as much as possible. We were sailing north every day we could. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and it was still cold. We ducked into the first good marina along the way, Gladstone. Oh, that was sweet.

Gladstone Marina had large fairways for manuevering the boat and we slid easily into the slip. They had a complimentary taxi to local shops, and even had piped in classical music for the restrooms and showers. Restaurants and some shops were a lovely walk down the sea wall. We thoroughly enjoyed that marina, walking to shops and recovering from the cold. In Scarborough we gave out heater away thinking we wouldn’t need it since we were going N. In Gladstone, we bought another heater at Bunnings. 🙂 Warmth. It is not overrated!

From there we tracked N again. And a new adventure began. Along this coast civilisation was beginning to disapper. The first place we dropped the hook was Pt. Clinton (not related to POTUS Clinton). This was a military exercise chunk of land and only when they are not shooting are we allowed to drop in for a stay.

Here we found what the chart calls “Tidal Overflow”. There is so much water in the port that when it rushes out the entrance and sometimes in, there are rapid like conditions In the water. The boat actually moves off course as it transits various moving chunks of water. For us it wasn’t dangerous as long as we paid attention. It was; however, unnerving. At anchor we didn’t sit to the wind. We hung to the current and the chain would run in odd angles from the boat. Thus the wind wasn’t blowing as we like from the bow but at times from the side, then the stern and then the side again. Island head creek was the same. A mess.

Studying up on what was happening we saw that the huge tides were aided by Broadwater Bay. In this huge bay water is funnelled into and builds up to 10 m (30’ high). After building that high, the water then rushes back out. All this water creates noticeable currents in the surrounding area. These currents are found 100’s of miles away from the bay and may during Spring tides, be up to 3 knots! Our preferred boat speed is 6 kts, having a 3 kt current against us will impact the distance we travel in one day.

That and discovering over falls out of sight of land! Whew. Traveling to the southern Islands in the Whitsundays we came across one wild overfall. Of course the winds here add to the adventure. When they are against the current the waves don’t stop, they build up larger and become closer together. They have a steep front and sailors refer to them as “Square waves. Here the waves squared up and marched towards our stern; curling, frothing and foaming as they lifted our boat up and slid under us. This lasted for about 30 minutes then settled back down to normal. Normal for this area. To say the ride was uncomfortable would be an understatement. We were glad to anchor behind an island for a good nights sleep. The “good night” was not part of the sleep.

Behind the southern islands in the Whitsundays we found most places had a wrap around swell. The wind created waves would bend as they approached the shallow water and curve around the island tips. Then in the anchorage a wave would roll by us side on. That doesn’t sound bad. What is bad is that it now creates a roll in the boat. So we roll every minute from 5 degrees one way to 5 degrees the other. Most often, because we have 1,000’s of lbs of lead in our keel, most often there is a smallish jerk at the end of the roll as gravity pulls on all that lead. It is NOT like rocking in a hammock! On top of that roll the locals describe the winds building and flowing over the island

Nice Wide Fairways, Lovely people, Great Vibe

as “bullets”. An apt description. So for a minute or two it is nice and calm, then there is a huge gust of wind that barrels down the mountain and smothers the boat. So much so that hanging out in the cockpit and reading is not comfortable. The comfort level of the anchorage ended up being next to zero. We do carry flopper stoppers that reduce the roll and do make life bearable. As we were only staying one night (no desire to stay longer in a weird windy spot) we left them stored. We slept, We didn’t sleep well. We moved the following am.

The next am up and out of there we were. On to Curlew where we hid from the wind for a couple more days. The wrap around was moderated a bit in this anchorage but that was dependent on the tides. As soon as the winds eased enough we made a run to Townsville. There we got a good nights sleep, in another marina.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Hardest Part of Cruising…

June 23rd, 2022

… is casting off the lines.

How true. We settle in. We love the area, the people and our nature is to stay, hang, party! We’ve been in Scarborough almost 30 months. It is time. Tanks are full, engine purs, we head out.

The sailing isn’t great. Cold weather had set in. But, officialdom is forcing our hand. Two things force/encourage us to move; weather and officialdom.

In Australia while immigration has acknowledged the circumstances surrounding Covid, Customs has not. If we keep the boat here longer than 3 years we are either locked down to one port or required to pay import duty on the vessel. As that duty would be to the tune of thousands of dollars we plan to leave. Besides, the world is a large place, there is more to see.

That and it is…. Cold here. We head N to the warmth!

We leave Scarborough about noon and head across the bay. There we turn N heading back through Wide Bay Bar and sliding up the inside of Fraser Island. Having done the reverse of that course to get here made casting off the lines easier.

This would also be our first overnight in a couple of years and it was cold. Once we turned N we were able to sail a bit. The winds were not great. So what. It was just time to get our sea legs out again.

Wide Bay Bar wasn’t that exciting. It could be. Boats have flipped and lives lost crossing bars in Australia. The goal is to have NO excitement. We checked with the Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) people on the conditions of the bar before crossing. They Green Lighted the trip. Sails down (we don’t sail during tricky crossings) we motored up the fairway and into the quiet waters behind Fraser. Gary’s anchorage looked nice and calm. It was. The following day we head up to Kingfisher resort.

Before Kingfisher was an active place. Now; after Covid and the shut down of a majoirty of the tourist industry here the resort was quiet. So quiet we didn’t even choose to go ashore. Dan (Captain on Vagabond) was there a day earlier and told us the resort; for the most part, closed. No more beach bar and the place was like a ghost town. Oh; there were things going on, a wedding and some people getting on and off the ferry. The vibe wasn’t all that good. So we gave it a pass.

Elysium with her favorite Sail plan

And the following day we scooted up to Bundaberg. The port we entered from. Anchored off the Marina for the first night and secured a slip for two more days.

There we ran into our neighbors from Whangarai, NZ. Brad and Gloria. When we first arrived in Australia we met up and now as we’re leaving we meet up again. That necessitated some story time and we made the most of it. On top of that bright spot they told us that Greg and Deb on Kaliope were here. We met them in Panama before we crossed the Pacific. Greg and Deb had just sold their boat and planning to do land travels. First in Australia and then back in the states.

Cruising for us is more about the people than the place. Although in some respects, they are related. We love connecting and reconnecting with people along the way.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cruising Lifestyles

June 14th, 2022

Cruising is a “lifestyle”. Like all lifestyles there are differences. There is the “Circumnavigating”, the “Tourist”, and the “Immersive” cruiser.

The Circumnavigating cruiser wishes to get around the globe. They want to test themselves, test their boat and see a bit of the world. Oh, they do see a good bit, and they miss much. Truth: no one can see it all no matter how much they try. Some cruisers sign up for adventuring through an organization like the World Arc. For a nice chunk of change, details are taken care of. Paper work (officialdom) is completed for you, ie immigration visa’s, customs paper work, canal transit details, and passage planning. All those cruisers need do is: follow the plan. There is a lot to be said for having another cover the details of cruising. We’ve joined two groups to make this life easier, the Puddle Jump and the Go West Rally. Both are the least demanding of cruisers wanting to do it their way.

Then, there is the tourist cruiser. They arrive at a port and want to see all the attractions. Life is a huge Disney World, minus many of the lines. Plus, they see the real deal, not a miniatururized plastic version with piped in music. They hop in a car, jump on a train or plane, and off they go.

And then there is the immersive cruiser. I don’t think there are many of us. We go slow. For the most part that is Elysium. We’ve been out 13 years and are only half way around the world. We plan on staying for long periods of time. We want to know what it is like living in various countries. How the people are, what the culture is like. To do that we must find a key for entry into the local’s world..

In Penrhyn it was Church. Even though we are not religious people, every Sunday when anchored off the town we went to church. No one actually said “you must attend Church. Intuitively we knew it. Church was expected. It was our way to get to know the people, to feel what they feel and live as close to how they live as we could. We joined their community clean ups on several occasions. I helped with 12 v electrical work, fixing machines that were not working properly, and repairing their swing set. We saved the town for a day when the belt on the town generator went out. Elysium had the needed spare engine belt in their inventory. Often we ate with them and I dove for Golden Pearls with them. Experiences like this one never discovers as they wave sailing by.

In NZ and Australia we joined tennis clubs. In Australia we have some tennis friends we’ve known for 30 years living in Brisbane. We played tennis and vacationed with them. We joined a local tennis club and shared in 4 social tennis outings every week. We met a tennis couple that loved traveling as much as we do. With them we made traveled to Cairns and Uluru. (We can’t skip all the tourist stuff 🙂 ) .

A lot of fun and yes, we know and love them all.

The most difficult part of being an immersive cruiser is saying “good bye”. I prefer… “until we meet again” because one never knows.

Before we left the states we had a christening party for the boat. In NZ we had a get together with our tennis peeps before leaving and we did the same here, in Australia. People we’ve met; land people, were always curious how we lived and what our “home” was like. Rather then having 50 different visits we put together plates of goodies (another of our great tennis friends- Lynn helped), some refreshments and a chance for them to see Elysium. Richard (the General Manager) at Scarborough Marina reserved the cruisers lounge for us. Two of our fellow cruisers boys – great kids, Louis and Ollie – great kids, escorted the guests through the marina gates, to the boat and back to the lounge. We added a slide show on the lounge TV of where we’ve been and commiserated how much we would miss them …all of them. And to be honest, we do miss everyone of them. They were all kind enough to share their lives and stories with us making us richer for the experience. We hope it was a fair exchange.

These cruising groups are not exclusive. There is movement in and out of them. Everything depends on ones available cruising time.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Getting There

June 5th, 2022

The project inside the boat is finished. The rain has abated. Time to get some color on.

Before the rain hit we washed and scrubbed the bottom. It was clean of loose paint. I paid one of the yard companies to grind off the Aqua-Coat at the waterline and to deal with the blisters. That bill topped $2k AUS. Sadly, more blisters appeared after they finished. Like all cruisers, cruisers help each other. I borrowed a grinder from s/v Vagabond and we repaired another dozen blisters. Grind, clean, fill with epoxy mud, sand, add barrier coat for preparation to paint.

Simon was off in his numbers!

The most difficult task was adjusting the water line on the port side. Simon (our painter) thought he had it right on when we had the boat painted in NZ. I tried to tell him it was low but he said he had his numbers taken when the boat was first hauled. It wasn’t worth arguing more, the line would be close. It wasn’t close enough. It was low. Slime formed higher on the hull than we wanted. Also I couldn’t convince him to make the shear stripe at the bow wider so visually it would have been the same on the water.

Thus, we had two changes to make. I needed to move the water line on the port side to have it fall where the water actually is. And I needed to widen the top of the line on the bow; both sides, where the boat stem fitting is.

After a good deal of consternation and some eyeballing by us and other cruisers we were now in the ball park. I used the bottom growth mark to get the waterline correct on the port side before we had cleaned it off. After which we measured and attempted to get the wider sheer at the bow to flow back into the normal width midships. This process took several hours. Laying it out, checking it, moving it, laying it out again. and finally, adding the barrier coat.

Tape remove, paint, re tape. Repeat.

Once the barrier coat was on, we added the white line under the sheer, then the brown sheer. And finally, the vinyl clear top coat. Over all, we were both happy with it.

Between all this we needed to service our AutoProp. While at our fiends home I was able to clean up the bronze and lubricate the prop. There is a special fitting for re-greasing each propellor blade. On the Autoprop each blade swings

PropSpeed is a two part Silicon based coating to reduce growth and save fuel.

independently. This independence allows a perfect pitch every rotation. With our new grease gun I lubricated each blade. That completed it was time to install the propeller at the boat. I don’t remember if I mentioned it – the key on the propeller had begun to wear. We needed a new one. And since we are a US boat it was an imperial key.

Luckily, Ian, the machinist that made our Groco part, could make a duplicate key. He measured, cut and trimmed a new SS key. To get the exact width he used a very cool machine to take a part of a hairs width off. It was now an exact replacement key. I put some anti-sieze on, put the key in place and slid the prop on. To finish I attached the special nut and set screw.

The final prop job; apply the PropSpeed. While PropSpeed doesn’t last forever, it is better than coating the prop with simple bottom paint. Bottom paint rarely lasts for a month of cruising. PropSpeed is designed to save on fuel (reduced friction) and keep marine growth at bay. It is a silicone based coating that is completely removed before re-coating. With the prop on and painted I bag it. The final step: we begin painting the bottom.

Slap it on. We are not a race boat. The important part is to have complete coverage and as thick as possible. We used about 21 liters of paint. Twenty of Black and one of Red. The first layer of the bottom is red. Where we had the blisters and where some of the red has worn off we recoated. In general, when we see red that tells us we are through the bottom paint and it is time to haul out. Once dried we apply the black.

Stir / pour / paint. We do this every time. We must keep the paint stirred as the Copper (the real antifouling ingredient that does all the work) will precipitate to the bottom if not stirred and not be evenly distributed. Paint would go on with zero Copper to do the work. W/ painted the lower areas while I did the waterline and mid section. Again another cruiser came by and helped loaning us a roller extension. Wow! That extension made the job easier and the application of the paint much quicker.

The only issue was the water line. Tape would not stick to the Vinyl Aqua-Coat. At the waterline we used a brush and took extra care. One coat on today, another tomorrow, launch the following day. Any extra paint was a waste in the can.We were not going to take it with us. Extra went on the waterline, the rudder, and the keel. We saved a bit for the the spots we could not get under the boat stands and the keel.

A job we didn’t like doing. But all turned out great!

Launch day arrived. The yards travel lift ambled over to lift Elysium. They lifted the boat and let it swing for an hour. We used this time for painting the last bit where the stands had supported the boat and where the keel rested. Twenty liters of paint ($900 AUS approx) is now on the boat.

I asked the travel lift operator what Elysium weighed. This is the first travel lift with a reliable scale. 17 metric tons. To the pit (the place they slowly lower the boat into the water) we went. Max speed; about 2 km / hour. 15 minutes later we were hanging over the water. Once immersed and before she is freed from the straps, I checked all the seacocks to ensure there was no water ingress. Perfect. Even the one I disassembled and re-assembled was dry.

With the slings released, and the tow attached, we slowly made way to our slip.

One huge step is now completed.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Contrasts

May 28th, 2022

Our lives are an adventure in polar opposites. We hauled the boat and had secured an AirBnB near by. Walking distance. A week before we hauled the AirBnB owner called to let us know that a contractor had informed him of an earlier start. The unit would not be available. Oh-oh. That was the bad news.

A couple of tennis friends we have shared much time with had gone to the UK for a few months. They kindly offered their place for us to stay while the boat is being hauled out. We accepted. While a bit farther away, we still have the car. Driving to the new and walking to the old was about the same time.

And best of all, when working on the boat we would be tracking less yard dirt and crud into the boat. We could leave it cluttered with tools when we left and begin where we left off when we return.

And yet mother nature had other plans. We knew the weather predictions. We also know that Mother Nature either doesn’t read or doesn’t care what the weather service expects to happen. Four days after we hauled, the rains set in. And they stayed. For an entire week. So much so that not only was boat work stymied, tennis too was cancelled many times.

What little could be done on the boat was accomplished.

When we hauled I had a seacock that a contractor had cracked the bolt attaching the handle. I didn’t do anything with it till we hauled out. A seacock is the beefy Bronze item that keeps water out of the boat and allows water to pass through the hull into the sea. So I waited until now. When the boat is out of the water working on this is much safer.

I thought the easiest would be to drill the end of the bolt, and use an Easy Out to remove the screw. I couldn’t get the drill centered well. I drilled anyway. I was able to get a couple of left handed bits at the nuts and bolt store. What luck. Drilling with the left handed bit would help ease the bolt end out. It did not move. I put in the easy out and twisted. The easy out didn’t hold. I needed to drill a larger hole and then use a larger Easy Out. To do that I would most likely damage the threads. The alternative was to remove the fitting. Fortunately we have kept every paper that came with parts for the boat. We have 9 folders full of manuals, instructions, and details. There was a diagram of the parts. I removed the piece.

Next, I needed a machine shop to remove the bolt and then I could reassemble everything. Remember, we live a life of contrasts. I first went to Jock at the Scarborough chandlery. I asked two questions: Where is a good machine shop to get the bolt out and can I order another replacement item.

For the most part Australia has been a wonderland of boat supplies. The seacocks we use are Groco, high quality bronze – US made. They are available here, in limited places, and pricey. It is a boat. What did I expect. First,

Innards of a Groco Bronze Seacock

Jock told me of a machine shop owned by a cruiser. Sweet. Second he would make some calls and see about the part. I gave him the part number. Hopped in the car, W/ and I drove to the shop. Always take W/ , she is much better dealing with people than I am. 🙂 We couldn’t find it the first time and called on the phone. W/ did. After chiding us for not finding it; he said he had been there for decades. He would stand out by the street making sure we didn’t…. drive by…. again.

We showed him the item and as any good machinist would do, said he would try. We left it with him and returned to the boat. We stopped at the chandlery again and Jock informed us that there are no parts available for the Groco in Australia. I could buy a new one, but not the part. Add that to my list. It is however still raining. I wasn’t yet ready to call the US, find the part and have it air freighted over. We do have a daily yard rate while hauled. 🙁 On to the next task while awaiting the results of this one.

Lubricating the seacocks. They need to be lubricated so when and if there is an issue with any leaks one can turn the handle and shut out all water. While in the past I had Rube Goldberged the process, this time I was doing them right. I had purchased two small grease guns that never, ever seemed to work properly. Again W/ and I hopped in the car looking to buy a real, full size grease gun. We did and proceeded to load it with grease and complete the next task. Now to get the Zerk fittings to grease the seacocks. Found them! Great. The 90º fitting fell apart. Some of the Seacocks were in; not impossible, but hard to reach places and I needed that elbow.

Back to the Chandlery. Jock didn’t have any with imperial threads. Remember, I said this was a US made product. The only suggestion was Zackleys; where I bought the left handed drill bits. Off I go. Here I got lucky; they had Zerk fittings with elbows and imperial threads! They didn’t have any straight fittings with imperial but my straight ones were ok. I bought a couple; always good to have extras and back to the boat I went. W/ and I began the process of lubricating all the remaining Seacocks. I love when things work and now they opened and closed easily.

The following morning we stopped by the machine shop. Ian, the owner came out with a shiny piece and the stud still in it . He showed me the corrosion and said no matter what, this would not keep water out. The best he could suggest was a new one. My head was spinning considering the cost of shipping from the US, the shipping time; sourcing the supplier; I didn’t like it. He suggested he could make a duplicate out of 316 SS. How much; $100! Hell, shipping the fastest way from the US would cost more than that! I asked him to make two. With a spare on board, that would guarantee never having another issue. That is what sailors believe, and I’m sticking to it.

Friday we picked up two new parts and I reassembled the seacock. Add the grease and celebrate one of the jobs completed.

Next: fix the water line with the Aqua – Coat, Fix the blisters, Paint the bottom and relaunch.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haul Out

May 20th, 2022
We’re getting closer to cruising again. Hauling the boat is one of the last steps before we cast off again. I am hoping for a week. ( I was off by 2) I am expecting about $5k to do everything ( I was wrong by about $2k) . We have not been out of the water close to 3 years.
 

Elysium being pushed

Elysium being pushed backwards to the haul out.

The marina has a great system of getting boats to the slipway. They tie a tow to Elysium and move it under their power. The boat is carefully moved to the slipway and the slings set. Lifted, power washed and then cradled for our work.

 

The power washed highlighted the first gotcha!

Elysium’s bottom after three years in the water

First in 13 years of cruising. We have some blisters that are not under the paint. They are behind the gel. Now

we get to play “whack a mole”. Every time we haul I’ll be looking for new ones to grind out, fill with an epoxy filler, sand, barrier and then paint the bottom.

After 14 years of cruising we have some blisters

It may be time to do some land travels when we reach Indonesia. There we can haul the boat and let everything dry out, fix and repair the bottom. And finally, start again with a fresh bottom. We’ll see what the future holds for us. For now, it is long tiring days, and another bucket of money. I’ll hire some of the grunt work. W/ and I will try to do the rest.

Raymarine Australia- WOW!

May 10th, 2022
I am impressed.
 
I sent the depth sounder Hull Transmitter and Display to Raymarine in Sydney on Tuesday. By Friday they had it and replied that the battery was the issue. Raymarine replaced the battery. Everything works now- the tech said. They were sending it back. Yipee!
 
Approximately one week later I had the pieces in my hand. I re -installed the Hull Transmitter and powered it  up. Bingo! I have soundings.
 
Bottom line. I may have been able to replace the batteries in my original unit and had everything working. Instead of spending the extra grand and time getting the new system up and running. Oddly, all to often, spending money is what cruising is. Throwing money at an issue until everything works. Out here, where few things happen fast, where you don’t have all your contacts, where you don’t have loads of time, sometimes the best option is to spend more of those precious cruising dollars.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long